The Governor’s School Safety Working Group prepared recommendations for
consideration using the following guiding principles that emerged throughout the
Students and educators fundamentally deserve to feel safe in schools.
School safety and emergency operations planning must be approached
comprehensively with attention to safety planning, preparation, and prevention.
School climate planning and assessment strategies must be integrated into the
school safety planning process.
Districts, schools, and local communities must prioritize placing trained law
enforcement officers in schools.
State funding for school safety should be allocated and distributed as fairly and
equitably as possible with attention to the areas of greatest need based on a
standardized assessment of security risks.
The state should support and encourage maximum utilization of technology to
support school safety.
Based on these guiding principles, the working group submits the following immediate
priorities and recommendations for consideration:
I. Immediate Priorities
1. Review and assess all school facilities to identify vulnerabilities and determine
the most appropriate use of resources to address those vulnerabilities.
2. Provide funding for school resource officers with an initial focus on schools with
lesser capacity to fund through local resources.
3. Develop or secure a statewide technology application for the anonymous
reporting of threats and critical concerns.
II. Further Recommendations and Detail
1. Facility Security and Planning
Every school in Tennessee should be assessed for safety and security
measures and rated using a standardized tool to identify strengths and areas
of risk. State funding should be prioritized for local needs as determined by
this assessment. Each school emergency operations plan should be reviewed
and assessed annually.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TN DOS)
should develop statewide physical security model standards for schools and
establish statewide physical assessment training and protocols to enable
local school districts and first responders to identify and address
The Tennessee Department of Education (TN DOE) should require individual
school emergency operations plans (EOPs) to be reviewed by relevant local
subject matter experts on an annual basis and ensure specific facility risks
and hazards are identified and addressed.
2. School Safety Personnel
The state should prioritize the use of school resource officers (SROs) for
school security personnel and provide guidance to local school districts, local
law enforcement, and local funding bodies relative to available state and
3. Training and Drills
The TN DOE should ensure required school safety drills and exercises
address current risks and hazards at the local sites as identified by the
security assessment and that such risks and hazards are reviewed annually
for the purpose of updating and revising corresponding training.
Local school districts should expand required safety drills and exercises to
include scenario-based discussions, simulations, and post-drill reviews under
the leadership of local first responders.
TN DOE, TN DOS, and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and
Substance Abuse Services (TN DMHSAS) should create a model and roll out
supporting resources (tools/training) for establishment of a student threat
reporting, assessment and response system in every district.
4. Promoting Positive Behavioral Health for All Students
TN DMHSAS in conjunction with TN DOE should expand training areas to
o Early and periodic screening and identification of student behavioral
o Strategies for creating, expanding, and sustaining school-based
behavioral health services;
o Strategies for promoting positive behavior and decision-making among
all students; and
o Strategies for increasing staff awareness and responsiveness to signs
and symptoms of student behavioral and mental health needs.
The Basic Education Program (BEP) Review Committee, utilizing multiple
state and national sources, should conduct a review of current staffing of
student support professionals (school social workers, counselors, school
psychologists, etc.) and recommend model staffing to promote and enhance
school climate and healthy learning environments.
The state should explore the utilization of an anonymous reporting system for
students, faculty, staff, and others to report suspicious activity and concerns
to law enforcement and school officials. Additionally, the state should explore
inclusion of mental health services as part of the technology development.
The state should encourage the utilization of technology whereby school
districts can provide local law enforcement with EOPs, site maps, floor plans,
and other relevant facility information with first responders via a secure online
The TN DOS should identify model components of school safety response
and threat alert technology